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Traveller killed over drug debt had fatal illness

The 49-year-old man who was gunned down in cold blood at the weekend had been suffering from a life-threatening illness.

Traveller Tom McDonagh (49) died in a hail of gunfire on Saturday night when he was ambushed at his caravan by at least two men, one of whom fired around 15 shots from an automatic pistol at him.

Yesterday the Herald revealed that gardai are working on the theory that the victim was gunned down on the orders of two brothers who are members of the Finglas gang that was formerly led by Eamon 'The Don' Dunne.

It is understood Mr McDonagh owed a massive drugs debt to the Finglas gang.

Local sources revealed that the victim was "under huge pressure" because of the debt and that he was threatened by three men at his home in the St Margaret's halting site in Ballymun just 24 hours before he was murdered.

It is understood that the victim was himself owed tens of thousands of euro but could not collect the cash in time.

"He was not in great health but he was battling his illness with great strength. He was a man of great faith," said a local source.

The mob suspected of murdering Mr McDonagh are also the chief suspects for shooting another Traveller in a northside dispute -- Anthony 'The Mole' McDonagh is still battling for his life in Blanchardstown Hospital after a gun tried to assassinate him in broad daylight in Finglas on July 15 last year.

The Finglas drugs gang has forged strong link with some local Traveller criminals who are involved in drug dealing and extortion.

Gardai said today that there had been no arrests so far in the case and they continued to appeal for witnesses.

Mr McDonagh's wife Kate was away for the weekend and his adult children were not with their father when he was shot.

The killer and his accomplice dumped their Nissan Qashqai at the Mayeston Lawn apartment blocks, about one kilometre from the crime scene, where they set it on fire.


They then fled on foot through nearby bushes and over a fence on to the side of the M50 southbound carriageway near the Finglas exit where they were collected by another vehicle.

Gardai want to speak to anybody who was on the halting site around the time of the killing or who may have seen the men burning out the Nissan Qashqai at the Mayeston apartments.

They also want to talk to any motorists who may have seen pedestrian activity on the side of the M50 southbound near the Finglas exit at about 10pm on Saturday.